Musings Of A Mountain Man - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Musings Of A Mountain Man

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   As we bask in the gold and blue glow of WVU's record-setting 70-33 Orange Bowl demolition of Clemson, it's time to send invitations to a celebration party.
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   WE INVITE Jamie Lynn Fincham, Cara Folk, Krystal Humphries, Kathy Sims, Kim Webster, Tim Agee, Mike Bann, Andrew Blood, Chris Cunanan, Dock Ellis III, Kiran Jay, Mike Seydor, Ron Sparks, Allen Weiner, Chris Woodrum and every other WVU fan who braved the wilds of Hollywood to watch the Mountaineers make the Tigers take a catnap.
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   INVITATIONS GO OUT to diehard Mountaineer denizens who live or grew up in our hometown of Parkersburg.
 
   This includes anyone who bought us a beer at our most recent high school reunion, which makes the list of people too long to mention here.
 
   We're buying the drinks this time around, anyway.
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   COME ON DOWN anyone we've ever met who is from West Virginia, lives there now, passes through occasionally on Interstates 64, 70, 77, 79 or, if they dare, the West Virginia Turnpike.
 
   Bring any relative you want at least two generations forward or back.
 
   Please ask a few of them to supply napkins and pepperoni rolls.
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   STEP ON IN, any oldie, newbie or wannabe member of the far-and-wide diaspora that is called the Mountaineer Nation.
 
   Don't worry, we have plenty of room.
 
   There's a stack of folding chairs in the back.
 
   Special seating goes to those from Wood, Roane, Fayette and Greenbrier counties.
 
   We hope you brought plasticware, paper plates and maybe some designated drivers.
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   OK, PEOPLE GATHER around.
 
   This won't take long:
 
   Before we start hootin' and hollerin' and start making snide comments about the city of Pittsburgh in general and the neighborhood surrounding the Pitt campus in particular;
 
   Before we start hearty partying and singing copious versions of "Take Me Home, Country Roads;"
 
   Before we start ardent dancing and lip-synching to that cool Wiz Kahlifa song;
 
   There's something we want to say.
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   WASN'T IT GREAT
to stay up late Wednesday night scanning media accounts of WVU's dismantling of Clemson?

 

   It was an absolute joy listening to the sports talk shows on the drive home from the game watch, making DVDs of the game replays and post-game shows until 4 a.m.
 
   It was a real pleasure to watch the ESPN and other sports network talking heads -- most of whom predicted a comfortable Clemson win -- have to analyze a WVU blowout that went at least 45 to 50 points counter to their expectations.
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   WASN'T IT GREAT to wake up Thursday morning and know that WVU's Clemson clouting still was going to be a topic of discussion by regional and national media?
 
   We discovered by full-tilt channel-flipping that several radio stations in our region made note of the WVU scoring onslaught on morning sports news segments, and that on two occasions an incredulous follow-up newscaster took note.
 
   They scored 70 points?
 
   Wow.
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   IT WAS EXCITING to hear this over the air, which is not a common emotion for us regarding news reporting.
 
   We have been in the media business for 32 years, which means we have at least 32 layers of cynicism.
 
   The travails that can come from covering any competitive walk of society for any branch of the media can create a hard edge for those who day in and day out provide the news, much like a tree creates it rings.
 
   The events -- whether they be tragic or titillating, happy or horrific -- seem to repeat themselves with a seasonal precision.
 
   Only the people affected by them change.
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   IT IS ALMOST INEVITABLE that one develops a natural defense mechanism -- a lack of emotional attachment to good news or bad that allows it to be processed as a routine part of a job.
 
   It grows year in and year out, inexorably becoming more visible to our eyes and to the eyes of others, be it family, friends, or those who consume what we produce.
 
   Such detachment helps in maintaining not only sanity, but crucial objectivity.
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   WHEN IT COMES TO WVU SPORTS, however, our objectivity is non-existent and our insanity in unquestioned.
 
   So why is it that someone of our relative age and arm's-length professional mindset still can conjure up subjective boyish excitement and disappointment over the peaks and valleys of a college sports team?
 
   Let us try to explain.
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   NOT TO DELVE TOO DEEPLY
into the psychological components of regional patriotism, but it seems from here that the sometimes ugly and inaccurate misrepresentations of West Virginia -- a beautiful place full of beautiful people often unfairly characterized -- make many of us who grew up there react with a stubborn, indescribable sense of protectiveness about our state.

 

 
   Many of us learn to roll with the punches -- yet throw them back, too -- with our own harsh judgments of those we think judge us.
 
   It also makes many of us alert and ready to tout West "By God" Virginia's virtues when we can.
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   THE ARENA THAT GIVES US the most frequent chance to do that is the sports arena.
 
   When a team of athletes -- the large percentage of whom aren't even from West Virginia -- go to battle wearing a jersey that has West Virginia written across it, they become part of our fabric.
 
   Many of us, dare we say most of us, develop some kind of attachment to this this dynamic early on.
 
   It becomes a part of us we carry through life.
 
   When the Mountaineers lose, we lose with them and share in the defeat.
 
   When the Mountaineers win, we share it even more.
 
   The fact that WVU historically and certainly at present wins way more than it loses gives us a vein of pride and good feeling.
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   THE ATHLETES THAT COME to WVU and stay for some time more often than not seem to absorb through some kind of spiritual osmosis the fans' unwavering commitment to our  state.
 
   Mountaineer football stars Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and Shawne Alston all said as much Wednesday night in post-game interviews.
 
   They were fighting for the fans, the people composing the only state in all of America who thought they could and would win.
 
   They paid back that faith by playing the most flawless game we can remember and -- considering the national focus on it -- giving themselves and their loyal fans one of WVU's finest wins ever.
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   WHEN OUR GUYS win big like they did against Clemson, we want to let people know about it, and with fervor.
 
   We personally were so happy about WVU's triumph that on Thursday we thought about going to confession just to share our happiness with a priest, but then it dawned on us that we're not Catholic.
 
   More than a few of us like to remind those who thought we couldn't win -- perhaps who intrinsically represent in more than a few of our minds the purveyors of West Virginia stereotypes -- that they were wrong and that we took their thoughts a little personally.
 
   That's 3-and-Oh in BCS bowls, baby.
 
   Take that, Kirk Herbstreit.
 
   In your face, Mark May.
 
                                                        *****
   IT SURE IS great to be a West Virginian and a Mountaineer fan these days.
 
   To us, the two are more than interchangeable -- they are inseparable.
 
   We will bottle these memories internally and externally and keep them close.
 
   They will be reminders of one of our happy times, when all was well in the Mountaineer Nation and the future was bright.
 
   We showed them once again.
 
It's party time.
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